PORTLAND — Fifth-seeded Southern Oregon stormed out to an early lead and held Warner Pacific off in the second half to advance to the Cascade Collegiate Conference women's basketball tournament semifinals with a 71-64 upset win over the fourth-seeded Knights Tuesday night at Bart Valentine Court.
Southern Oregon's first CCC Tournament win in three years improved the Raiders' record to 22-9 this season and sets SOU up for a Friday matchup with third-ranked Eastern Oregon at 7 p.m. in La Grande.
Alexi Smith scored a game-high 23 points and added 12 rebounds to earn her eighth double-double of the season. Melissa Sweat scored 21 points, while Allison Gida tallied 11. Point guard Ashley Claussen played all 40 minutes and fell just shy of a triple-double with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Chelsey Christensen and Tori Carroll each scored 15 points to lead Warner Pacific, with Christensen also grabbing 12 rebounds. Morgan Wolff and Nichole Jackson each tallied 11 points.
Southern Oregon scored 13 of the first 16 points of the game to take a double-digit lead less than 150 seconds after the opening tip. The Raiders stretched their lead to as many as 15 points throughout the first half before settling for a 36-23 halftime advantage.
Warner Pacific's shooting woes doomed the Knights to the early deficit, as the hosts connected on only 22.2 percent of their shots (8 of 36) in the first half. The Raiders also out-rebounded the Knights 30-to-19 in the period and finished the game with a 57-39 rebounding advantage.
The hosts made a game of it in the second half, as the Knights rediscovered their shooting touch to make 17 of their 36 second-half shot attempts (47.2 percent) while limiting SOU to 37.5 percent shooting (12 of 32) after the break.
Five minutes into the second half, Sweat made a layup and a free throw to convert a three-point play that put the Raiders up by 17 — their largest lead of the game. Jacki Cannon made a layup for WPC on the Knights' next possession as the hosts scored the next nine points to pull within six. A 3-pointer by Christensen capped the run to make it 48-42 with 12:37 remaining.
Claussen responded with a three-pointer for the Raiders, but the Knights scored the next six points to make it a one-possession game at 51-48 with 10 minutes to go. Warner Pacific pulled as close as two back a few minutes later on a Jackson jumper, but consecutive buckets by Smith and a layup by Sweat pushed the lead back to eight with five minutes to play.
The Knight defense buckled down at that point and kept SOU from scoring for the next three minutes as Jackson made a jumper and Wolff added a 3 to again make it a three-point game in the final two minutes. Smith broke the scoring drought for the Raiders with a layup with 1:44 to go, and Angelica Cahee followed with a layup to make it 66-59 in the final minute-and-a-half.
Carroll hit a 3 right at the one-minute mark to give WPC one last chance, but the Raiders made 5 of 6 free throw attempts down the stretch to clinch the upset victory.
The win marks SOU's first against Warner Pacific in the last six meetings between the teams, including a pair of WPC wins this season. It also ends a three-game SOU skid in conference tournament games, stretching back to a 68-55 road win over Warner Pacific in the 2010 tournament.
Now the Raiders will take on perhaps the hottest team in the NAIA. Eastern Oregon has won 23 consecutive games, going a perfect 18-0 in conference play, and took out eighth-seeded Corban 81-67 on Friday. Southern Oregon will look to hand EOU its first loss since Black Friday 2012 in Friday's CCC semifinal.
EAGLE POINT 48, ASHLAND 43 — At Eagle Point, Eagle Point's Justin Hartman had 14 points and Jorge Quintero added eight points to help the Eagles sweep the three-game Class 5A Southern Oregon Hybrid series with Ashland.
Connor Kaegi recorded 14 points and RJ Atteberry added 10 points for Ashland (1-20, 0-3 SOH), which got within three points in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles (14-9, 3-0) led 22-13 at halftime.
ASHLAND (43) — Atteberry 10, Kaegi 14, Fredrickson 4, Walters 5, Feinberg 2, Layton 6, Crenshaw 0, Stanley 2. Totals: 16 6-10 43.
EAGLE POINT (48) — Barber 7, James 1, Quintero 8, Hartman 14, Chavez 7, Dixon 2, Zerger 2, Edwards 2, Holmes 4, Dole 1. Totals: 20 4-9 48.
Ashland 4 9 11 19 — 43
Eagle Point 8 14 14 12 — 48
3-point goals — Ashland 5 (Atteberry 2, Kaegi 2, Walters 1), Eagle Point 4 (Barber 1, Quintero 2, Chavez 1).
JV result — Eagle Point won.